Why I hate being a writer.

I know I write a lot about the act of writing here, with enough miscellaneous stuff here and there to break up the monotony, and you folks know I don’t post nearly enough as I probably should.  When I started this blog it was to provide a window into the writing process because I felt as though it’s something not really communicated to readers.  All readers see is the finished product.  There’s not much discussion on what went into it.  So, that’s the niche I hoped to fill.

Today I’m not going to write about the great things I love about writing.  Contrary to the title, I love writing.  I love it, I live for it, sometimes it keeps me sane (and equally insane).

But while I love the act and art of writing, I fucking hate being a writer.  In recent years I’ve come to understand that I was meant to do this, that I’ve always been a writer, even if I didn’t know it, and that working with words as a medium is far more satisfying to me than, say, graphite or clay.  When I was younger, I used to draw pictures and make up stories.  Later that interest turned to comics and animation.  At one point I wanted to work for Disney; at another I wanted to work for DC Comics; and eventually I dabbled in film.  This all led to my first book, and I’ve been on this path ever since.

So, I could’ve been “Todd the animator” or “Todd the illustrator” or “Todd the director.” But instead I ended up here as “Todd the writer.”

And, well, being a writer sucks. Take note I didn’t say I hate the act of writing itself, but the act of being a writer.  Like most artists, I struggle with second-guesses and doubts about my work, about its perceived worth, about its presentation, and so on.

Like most artists, I scrape together a living month to month working a job that has nothing to do with my interests, and it’s only in the last couple of years that I found a job with which I’m comfortable.  It’s simply a means to an end–that is, it keeps a roof over my head, the lights on, and food on my table.  It isn’t glamorous and it isn’t abnormal by any stretch of the imagination.  A lot of people end up in jobs and careers they did not want.  While it is a fair living, it is also a reminder of what I should be doing during the daily hours.  It’s a reminder that I essentially wasted a lot of money and four whole years earning a degree I can’t use.

Okay, I take that back. I can (and do) use that degree every single day I put pen to paper, but it’s not something with which I can easily make a living.  You don’t see many help wanted ads for writers in the newspaper.

So, I hate being a writer for the job prospects.

I also hate being a writer because of story pressure.  If you’re a writer and you’re reading this, you probably know that sense of restlessness when you have a story brewing in your head.  I think of it as a pressure-cooker that slowly builds up over time as a story begins to develop.  Soon you have no choice but to write it down, or express it some other way, so long as you get it out of your brain and on to some form of physical media.  When you can’t write, be it because of your job or real life commitments, it begins to back up.  Think of it as “literary constipation.” You know you should be writing, but there are other things that also have equal importance. So, you have to choose, and sometimes writing doesn’t always come out in the end. “I’ll make up the time,” you tell yourself. Only, when you sit down to actually write, you find the mood has passed.  Again, the story remains untold, the words unwritten, and they linger in your head, simmering and building up pressure until another creative spark.  If this goes on long enough, you eventually convince yourself the story you wanted to tell wasn’t worth telling, and you move on to something else.  Or, you convince yourself the idea you have isn’t the best one, so you think of ways to re-tell the same idea.  You could call this a precursor to the dreaded “writer’s block.” I call it a pain in the ass and a major inconvenience. The worst part is, it’s all self-imposed, and sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Finally, I hate being a writer because, well, a lot of writers are assholes. I do not exclude myself from this, nor do I mean to offend anyone.  It’s just a personal opinion and observation.  A lot of writers I’ve seen often break off, form their own little cliques, heavily criticizing outsiders while elevating themselves as far as their egos will take them. Unfortunately this carries over into the world of publishing, on a much larger scale, and I like to think of it as the “great literary circle-jerk.” The issue of the ego is a whole other blog post on its own and, in a nutshell, I will say it probably stems from the classification of “the artist.”  “Writers: We’re eccentric, weird, and quirky.  Don’t piss us off or we’ll write very bad things about you.” This should be on a T-shirt.  I’d wear it.

Sorry.  I had to get this off my chest, as it’s been bugging me for a while now. I was due for a rant, anyway.  Again, this is all my opinionated observation.  No harm is intended.  Keep that in mind if you want to troll or flame me.

So there you have it. Some reasons why I hate being a writer. I hate it, and yet I love writing.  It makes enduring some of the bullshit well worth the trouble.

And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging (or lack thereof).

Until next time,

TK

3 thoughts on “Why I hate being a writer.

  1. Hi Todd,

    I feel your pain. In the last 2 years I decided to finally try and put some kind of balance into my writing career by returning to part time (creative) study. The end product was more creativity, but also a whole lot more conflict thrown into my daily work/life balance.

    Writing feels at time like a mindful juggernaught. I am not one of those writers who can draw a neat line between creativity and the rest of life’s pressures. The moments of being clever (in a literary way) spur you on and then throw you onto the rocks. So many starts and stops. Ideas, as you say, that seem brilliant and then when you finally sit down to write the ink in the pen drags like lead.

    This week I’ve switched to attempting to write in the morning before work. It has increased my productivity, but also meant that for the rest of the day the story haunts me. More conflict. I got to bed at night stressed that the morning soon comes and I have no ideas.

    Unfortunately, the haunting is easier to live with than the guilt of doing nothing at all.

    Mark.

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